Other alternatives are better
The following letter was sent on behalf of the Downtown Voices Coalition Steering Committee to Peggy Neely, Phoenix City Council Member and chair of the Council’s Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee.
The Downtown Voices Coalition is opposed to the proposed Metro West light rail alignment. We are very supportive of light rail, but cannot support a route that cuts through the St. Matthew neighborhood. The proposed east-west route along Jefferson will destroy a historic neighborhood, both physically and socially, and will not create transit-oriented development.
The St. Matthew neighborhood is one of the oldest in Phoenix. It has more 19th century Victorian buildings than any other location in the city. Many of these houses are located along Jefferson Street. Jefferson is a very narrow, two lane residential street in this location. The proposed light rail route will entail widening the street by removing the front easements and vegetation and will create a stretch of elevated track right in front of the residences near 19th Avenue. We are unaware of any other segment of the light rail that cuts right through a historic neighborhood.
It is even more problematic that transportation planners have been negligent in communicating with the neighborhood. Even though 20,000 notices were sent out for the March 2 public meeting about the western alignment, residents of the St. Matthew neighborhood were not invited until yesterday, March 1, and only half of the neighborhood actually received fliers.
Running the line through a low-income historic neighborhood, one that cannot support transit-oriented development, will not fulfill light rail’s economic goals, but it will cause great hardship for a struggling low income community. Other proposed routes, such as Van Buren and 19th Avenue, have greater economic potential and do less harm.
The City Council should require that a proper assessment of the impact on the St. Matthew neighborhood be conducted and a thorough investigation regarding the economic potential of alternate routes be considered.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter.